By Mary Grace Taylor
Done right, snacking can deliver on those promises to boost energy and keep hunger in check. Follow this wisdom to get your nibbles in order.
1. Listen To Your Gut
If your belly isn’t sending out feed-me rumbles, don’t eat. Recent research found that 62 percent of Americans say they snack because of cravings, a quarter blame boredom, and another 16 percent chalk it up to stress.
2. Keep The Break, Lose The Snack
“For many people, a break in their day is just another excuse to eat,” says Keri Gans, author of The Small Change Diet. Undo the association between downtime and food by planning time to unwind around an activity like taking a walk or a quick round of Candy Crush Saga.
3. Show Up Empty-Handed
Keeping a bag of trail mix in the car for hunger emergencies sounds smart – until you polish it off the first time you’re stuck in traffic. “We’re biologically wired to want to eat food the second we see it,” says Susan Roberts, a professor of nutrition at Tufts University. Out of sight means out of mouth.
4. Divide And Conquer
Take the total number of kilojoules you should be getting in a day and divide it by how often you eat. If you stick to just three meals, each can be pretty large (around 2760 kilojoules for a 8300-kilojoule-a-day diet). But if you find yourself needing to graze at least once before lunch and again before dinner, you should be aiming for 2090 kilojoules per meal and 1045 kilojoules per snack.
5. Go Whole
The goal of a snack is to fuel you until your next meal. Minimally processed foods are best at this, especially when they pack at least two of these three nutrients: protein, fibre and healthy fat. Just don’t forget that portions matter too, since things like nuts and dairy can be kilojoule dense (which is one of the reasons they’re so satisfying). Even in smaller amounts, you’ll be surprised how well these foods can ward off tummy grumble.